LISTEN: Use the Reinforcement Principle, Part 4 (Get Things Done! #48 with Daniel Whyte III)

Daniel Whyte III
Daniel Whyte III

Proverbs 18:9 says: “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.”

Our quote for today is from Edward Everett Hale. He said: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

Today, in the Get Things Done podcast we are looking at Part 4 of Step 8: “Use the Reinforcement Principle”.

Edwin Bliss writes:

Q: Do you recommend keeping a written record of how well you’re doing?

A: Most of the research on behavior modification involves meticulous record-keeping in order to measure the success rate. If you are dealing with an easily measured behavior, such as how often you have done your quota of calisthenics, or how many pages you have written each day on your master’s thesis, then that’s the scientific way to go about it. But most people are turned off by the nuisance of recording their behavior, and the kinds of things we procrastinate on don’t always lend themselves to easy graphing. So experiment. If keeping a written record isn’t too much bother, you’ll probably find it helpful; on the other hand, if it turns out to be an unacceptable chore, just remember that it isn’t essential.

Your purpose is to shape your behavior, not to obtain data for scholarly research. You’ll know whether or not you’re making progress.

Q: Suppose a person does decide to keep a written record. What kind do you recommend?

A: A cumulative graph is generally the best bet.

Q: Why?

A: Let’s take that master’s thesis as an example. You’ve been procrastinating but finally resolve to get started on it, and you set a goal of writing four pages a day. You spend as much time on it each day as you can, but the number of pages you actually produce is:

Monday – 3
Tuesday – 2
Wednesday – 4
Thursday – 0
Friday – 2

You’ve written a total of eleven pages during the week, but as you look at the figures you’re disheartened. Only one day out of the five did you reach your goal. That’s failure. It’s discouraging. Your enthusiasm wanes and procrastination sets in again.

If you were to convert your figures to a bar graph, the effect is still discouraging, perhaps even more so. There’s a big gap between those bars and the dotted line that represents your daily goal. If you were to put the data on a line graph the result would be no better. Not only did you fall short of your goal four days out of five, but the overall trend is clearly downward. A gloomy thought.

But if you were to put those same figures on a cumulative graph—showing the total number of pages you have written—it would still be apparent that you didn’t do what you had hoped to do (represented by the dotted line), but you’ve accomplished quite a bit. You can see how much better off you are than when the week began, and you gave yourself a mental pat on the back. Not too generous a pat—after all, you didn’t make that line as steep as you had hoped and procrastination did rear its ugly head on Thursday—but you’re nevertheless looking at a picture of solid achievement, and you can see that you’re moving toward your goal. The other graphs are accurate, but psychologically they are downers. This one gives you a psychological boost.

Q: It seems almost as if you’re so desperate to make things look good that you’re willing to manipulate the data a little, instead of facing the cold, hard truth.

A: Not at all. There’s nothing untrue or deceptive about that cumulative graph. It’s simply a matter of viewing the truth in the best light. You’re just accentuating the positive.

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Now, let’s pray our prayer together —

Almighty and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

Now, the greatest secret to getting things done with your life for the glory of God is to have the Lord Jesus Christ in your life. When you have Jesus in your life, you can say with Paul in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, here’s how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

God bless you, and remember: if you have something to do, there is no better time to do it than now.

Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.

He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.

He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.